Meta is starting to test closed spaces called “members-only worlds” in Horizon Worlds, its social VR experience. The company has begun a limited alpha test to give creators the ability to grow and moderate their own communities. Meta has selected a small group of creators to build and obtain feedback about members-only worlds.
In a blog post, Meta explained that creators can hand-select members and offer them exclusive experiences. During the alpha test, each members-only world can have up to 150 world members and 25 concurrent visitors at any given time. With members-only worlds, creators can launch a dedicated space to do things like host a book club, gather a gaming group, organize a support group or just hang out with friends and family without having to worry about uninvited guests.
“Every community develops its own norms, etiquette, and social rules over time as it fosters a unique culture,” Meta explained in its blog post. “To enable that, we’ll provide the tools that allow the creators of members-only worlds to set the rules for their communities and maintain those rules for their closed spaces. Creators can choose whether or not to share their moderation responsibilities with other trusted group members and decide if they’ll allow members to visit the world without a creator or moderator present.”
The idea of members-only worlds in Horizon Worlds is likely a welcome addition for users of the platform. It’s no secret that Horizon Worlds can sometimes create unsafe environments for users. After reports that women were being groped and sexually harassed in Horizon Worlds, the company rolled out a “Personal Boundary” feature that creates a bubble of space with a radius of two virtual feet around each avatar. The new members-only worlds could be seen as another way for Meta to address these issues.
The launch of the new test comes as Meta expanded the availability of “personal space” in Horizon Worlds in September. Personal space gives users a place where they can hang out, play minigames, or invite friends over before heading to an event.
Meta said last year that Horizon Worlds will be available on the web and mobile in the future. Now the company says the VR experience will be available on these platforms “soon.” By launching Horizon Worlds on more platforms, Meta will make it a lot more accessible, as it’s currently only available on the company’s own Quest VR headsets.